Paulina Olowska

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Within Paulina Olowska’s practice, industry, leisure, and socialist symbolism occupy the same visual and cultural space.

Within Paulina Olowska’s practice, industry, leisure, and socialist symbolism occupy the same visual and cultural space. Her realist paintings, drawings, and collages borrow imagery from Eastern European and American popular culture creating a cross cultural reference that is evident throughout her practice, whilst engaging with the concepts of consumerism, feminism, and design. The outward appearance of Olowska’s female subjects is equally as important as the historical memories interwoven seamlessly throughout her collages and paintings. Olowska’s treatment of her subject’s materialization acts as a direct display of the spirit of the individual, which is likely to be contrasted against a uniformed surrounding reminiscent of life experienced behind the iron curtain.

Olowska’s affinity with performance based art accounts for much of her appreciation. Most notably is Alphabet (2005), her adaptation of Czech designer Karel Teige's typographic book ABECEDA. Presented at MoMA in 2012, performers mould their bodies to affix the letters of the alphabet, forgetting conventional forms to construct a new system of meaning. At the heart of Olowska’s artistic practice is her collaborative work, lending a platform to her contemporaries who are underrepresented. Demonstrating the disjunction of time and cultural impermeability of Eastern Europe, Olowska’s multi-faceted oeuvre establishes a dialogue with the past; she calls upon forms recognizable from multiple collective histories of modernism to adhere with an invented contemporary environment.

Selected Works
Installation Views
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A collaboration with Frieze Studios

Paulina Olowska: Destroyed Woman

Artist Paulina Olowska invited Frieze Magazine into her studio at the Villa Kadenowka earlier this summer, providing a background for her show ‘Destroyed Woman’ at Simon Lee Gallery, London.

‘What is maybe considered a leftover or a dumb story, could actually have a hidden meaning’, says artist Paulina Olowska. In this video, filmed in in Rabka-Zdroj, Poland around the artist’s studio and the Villa Kadenowka, a 1930s villa she has transformed into a space for artists events, Olowska discusses the complex relations of her practice to art history, tradition, place, dress and processes of mediation.

Revealing the rich diversity of her work and expression, the video includes footage of Olowska excavating fabric she had buried in the ground near Kadenowka, which have been incorporated into a sculpture displayed in ‘Destroyed Woman’. Its title a reference to a pivotal text by feminist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir, Olowska explains her particular concern for making room for vulnerability in the representation of female experience. ‘I’m tired of calling women ‘strong’ and “superwoman”', she says, 'there is still a sense of doing a lot for female place in culture’.

The exhibition is on view till 16 November.

Paulina Olowska invited Frieze Magazine into her studio at the Villa Kadenowka earlier this summer, providing a background for her show ‘Destroyed Woman’ at Simon Lee Gallery, London, on till 16 November 2019. A Frieze Studios film.
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Paulina Olowska, Natalia Sielewicz and Elisabeth Lebovici in conversation with Clément Dirié

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Paulina Olowska performance: Abeceda (after Milca Mayerova)

Paulina Olowska’s performance is inspired by the book entitled ABECEDA by Karel Teige - a key figure of the Czech avant-garde who created the experimental “moving alphabet” in 1926 in cooperation with Milca Mayerova.

 

Presented by Mimosa House in dialogue with Tomaso Binga's alphabet works. Supported by Arts Council England
Exhibitions

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